Cargill’s work in the global food system provides unique insight into what it takes to ensure access to safe, affordable and nutritious food for everyone.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that there are about 800 million chronically undernourished people in the world today—that is approximately one in nine, many of whom are children. While the world has made great progress reducing hunger, feeding the world remains a challenge.
The earth’s population is not only increasing, it is also becoming more urban, growing fastest in areas not well suited to food production. Meanwhile, farmers must adapt to new production challenges presented by a changing climate. “Global food security is a big challenge,” stated Greg Page, Cargill’s executive chairman. “It requires collaboration. It requires a multidisciplinary approach.”
“This isn’t a problem that can be solved in pieces, but needs to be approached holistically.”— Greg Page, Executive Chairman of Cargill
The good news is the global food system currently produces enough food to meet the world’s nutritional needs. Farmers around the world have doubled their grain, rice and oilseed production since 1975, thanks to adaptations to changing growing conditions, improvements in genetics and agronomics, and increases in “intensification,” the practice of producing more goods without using new land. But access to this abundance continues to be unbalanced, a result of extreme poverty, trade barriers, wars and inadequate storage and transportation infrastructures.
To correct this imbalance and honor its commitment to nourishing people, Cargill works both on its own and with others to expand access to food, improve agricultural productivity and increase farmer incomes, all while ensuring the responsible use of natural resources. The company advocates for policies that improve food security and enable farmers to thrive . Cargill believes that to provide sufficient, safe and affordable food for all, it must support open trade, and equally important, embrace the science and technology that allow farmers to make the most of their land.
Cargill’s work in improving food security involves educating countries on their own potential. When countries harvest crops that are best suited for their native growing conditions, and are open to trading the surplus crops they produce, they create a significant positive impact. These exchanges ensure that more food is produced in a way that is not only more economical, but also more sustainable.
Open, trust-based trade also enables food to move to the places where it’s needed, most notably the impoverished, expanding nations currently experiencing food deficits. Over the last 50 years, increased food production in North America, South America and Eastern Europe has provided the food required to feed growing populations in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. In 2014, Cargill invested US $3.2 billion in assets and facilities that help move food more efficiently from where it is grown and processed to where it is needed most.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.”— African Proverb
But the ability to feed the world depends on having successful farmers at every level of production. To help them fulfill their vital role in the global food system, Cargill helps provide access to inputs, credit, storage, distribution and technology. It uses its long-term collaboration with CARE to lift thousands of rural families in Africa, India, Brazil and Central America out of poverty through farmer training and community support initiatives. The company also partners with organizations such as the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Global Alliance to Improve Nutrition to relieve hunger in communities worldwide.
Though obstacles still remain, Cargill is optimistic about the world’s ability to reduce chronic hunger and feed itself. And the company is uniquely positioned to help growing populations overcome these food security challenges and give future generations the opportunity to thrive.